TRUCK CRUSHES FORESTER AGAINST WOODS ROAD GATE
BACKGROUND: A forester had stepped out of his truck on level terrain to unlock a gate to a forested property on a fall morning in the Southeast.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The 34-year-old field forester had been involved in various field aspects of industrial and consulting forestry for over ten years. He was considered to be a safety-conscious individual.
UNSAFE ACTS: The forester stopped his truck close to a metal-pipe gate that was hinged at both ends (opening at the middle of the road). He walked up to unlock the gate in the middle of the road, turning his back to his pickup truck, which had been apparently stopped a short distance behind him. Evidence suggests that he either did not shift the pickup into park or did not fully engage the parking brake, or perhaps his parking brake did not hold.
ACCIDENT: Although the accident was unwitnessed, the pickup must have moved forward (in drive), struck the forester in the back at chest/abdomen level, and pinned him against the metal gate.
INJURY: A game warden doing a routine check of the forested property found the forester late in the afternoon, dead, apparently having suffocated from being pinned between the pickup truck and the gate. The vehicle had overheated but was still in drive and applying pressure against him. It was evident that the forester had struggled unsuccessfully to free himself.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
- Shift automatic transmissions into park and apply the parking brake when exiting a vehicle. For added safety, consider shutting off the engine to avoid any surprise rolling or re-engaging of the vehicle's gears. Manual transmission vehicles should be shifted into gear, engine shut off, and the parking brake engaged.
- Make sure your parking brake is in working order.
- Under certain conditions, consider parking the vehicle towards the side of the road, walking underneath the gate, and unlocking it from the inside of the tract, to avoid any potential incident with the vehicle rolling or moving.
- Carry your cell phone with you whenever you leave your woods vehicle, even if you plan to be out of the truck for only a few moments.
- Examine your driving and parking habits and change unsafe ones.
- Be aware if your mind seems to be "not on the job" on a particular day and take extra precautions.
Southeastern/Appalachian Technical Division Forester
Please follow equipment manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.